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A Winning Attitude


Recently I’ve been following college NCAA baseball; the Oregon State Beavers are rated #1 in the country!  It is exciting, anxiety provoking and ultimately… sinful.  We often talk about having a “winning attitude” which can mean having a positive approach toward the game being played – but it isn’t just a positive approach to the game, it is restrictively attached to the results of the game, and when that is done things get problematic.  Winning necessitates the defeat of the other.  The experience of going through a losing season with a child who is playing a sport will tell one about the negative power attached to being the one often defeated.  This is no simple matter in our culture.  Sports are serious business – emotionally and economically.  Winning brings power and losing brings shame.  We don’t see it; how this dynamic of having a winning attitude becomes a sinning attitude.

This week David Brooks wrote an op-ed in which he quotes another op-ed written by H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn of the Trump Administration:  “The President embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”  Brooks says that this sentence, essentially, exposes the “Trump project” as one of selfishness and competing for gain – that is, a winning attitude.  I am upset with the Trump Administration for backing out of the Paris Accord on the environment for reasons I have often expresses – concern for the environment and future generations.  But what also upsets me is the attitude that we must take care of ourselves regardless of others.  Brooks says that Trump went to Europe and stuck his thumb in all of our allies.  Brooks goes on to claim that people are “wired to cooperate.”  I would say more than that, people are interdependent – inextricably connected to each other so that the actual path for success (winning?) is through cooperation.

My son Kenneth was signing up for classes in the fall at American University and one of them will be When Worldviews Collide, and that is what we have here:  a winning attitude and a cooperating attitude.  Let me quote a part of the Social Principles on Justice and Law:

Believing that internationally justice requires the participation of all peoples and nations, we endorse the United Nations, its related bodies…WE commend the efforts of all people in all countries who pursue world peace through law. We endorse international aid and cooperation on all matters of need and conflict….

These words are rooted in a cooperating attitude.  A Christian worldview is a cooperating worldview.  It uses words like invite, welcome, include, etc.  Jesus even said “the last will be first and the first will be last.”  Which worldview do we want to live by?  How do we respond to a worldview based upon a winning attitude, when it means win at all cost – even at the cost of the planet?

This Sunday is Peace with Justice Sunday and there cannot be peace or justice if we live by a winning attitude.  This isn’t about politics.  This is about faith and discipleship – David Brooks will tell us that.



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